Names famous and not yet-well-known fill the lineup of the second annual Arkansas Sounds festival, a presentation of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.
Besides country singer Collin Raye (and a tribute to Glen Campbell), there are a couple of other legendary Arkansas-born musicians who will be featured: Dan Hicks and Tav Falco.
Hicks, like the late Gen. Douglas MacArthur, was born in Little Rock and left as a child because his father was a career military man. Hicks was born in 1941 at St. Vincent Hospital.
“I have a baby book that even tells me what room I was born in,” he says. “We moved off to California when I was about 5, and I got into music pretty early, but as a drummer to begin with.”
Hicks was one of the early entrants in shaping the San Francisco sound, but never rocked out like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Instead, he was content to bop along in the late 1960s and early ’70s, making a sound that would have been at home in his birth era.
With Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, he came up with cleverly named songs such as “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away,” “I Scare Myself,” “Where’s the Money?” “Walkin’ One and Only,” and put his own touch on old classics that included “I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande).”
In 1974, Hicks broke up the band and pursued the lure of music for movies in Southern California, only gradually coming to his senses and making a new Hot Licks album, Beatin’ the Heat in 2000.
Hicks took his time returning to his home turf, but he did perform in his home state a couple of times: at the Good Folks house concert series in Fayetteville in the early 1990s and at Juanita’s in Little Rock a few years later.
“There will be five folks in the band,” Hicks says. “I’m bringing The Hot Licks this time, which will be two ladies, percussion, lead guitar, and a guy on fiddle and mandolin. We’ll do some of my originals and some Bob Wills-type material. I have a new album that we recorded to celebrate my 70th birthday, Live at Davies, which is the symphony hall in San Francisco, and there were 3,000 people there, which was one of the biggest audiences I’ve ever had. There were some special guests, including Rickie Lee Jones, Maria Muldaur, Harry Shearer and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.”
Tav Falco was born in Gurdon and made his way to Memphis in 1973 after a stint at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Embracing the Memphis music scene, he assembled a band he named Panther Burns, and the late Alex Chilton (The Box Tops, Big Star) produced the group’s debut 1981 album Behind the Magnolia Curtain.
Falco, who has lived in Vienna the past two decades, has written a book about Memphis: Ghosts Behind the Sun: Splendor, Enigma & Death: Mondo Memphis Volume 1.
“It’s an epic saga, really, which I researched for about three years,” Falco says. “I combined historical fiction with facts and, like Panther Burns itself, the book just kept going. I started with the era when Memphis was just the fifth bluff on the Mississippi River, and the Chickasaw Indians were the residents there.
“It eventually all led to my own tenure in Memphis. In between, I make note of the Harpe brothers, the first mass serial killers in the region, plus Machine Gun Kelly, who was captured in Memphis, and Don West, a labor agitator with the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.”
During his residency in Vienna, Falco has also found an affinity for the tango, and has been dancing since 1991. Meanwhile, Panther Burns has continued to perform wherever Falco finds himself.And though Panther Burns’ music has ranged all over the musical map, Falco says he tailors the band’s performances to the audiences he attracts.
“I put a set together after looking at the crowd,” he says. “In a sense, we’re the ditch diggers of American music, playing it all with the Panther Burns beat, in which we have to get inside a song to make it come alive.”
Falco and Panther Burns will also play at Maxine’s in Hot Springs, later Friday night, leaving the show in Little Rock and hitting the road to Spa City.
“I love the idea of playing in a former bordello,” Falco says with a laugh.
Falco will also have a book signing at 6 p.m. today in the Darragh Center at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library, 100 Rock St.
Three programs for children and teens are scheduled at the Main Library on Saturday: The Kinders concert for kids up to 6 years old at 10:30 a.m. in the library’s third-floor youth services area, a hip-hop songwriting and production workshop at 1 p.m. for ages 7 to 12 and a hip-hop songwriting and production workshop for ages 13 to 19 at 2 p.m. The hip hop events are both in the Level 4 teen center.
6-10 p.m. Friday, River Market pavilions, 400 President Clinton Ave.: The Smittle Band at 6 p.m., Tav Falco & Panther Burns at 7:15, Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks at 8:30
Noon-11 p.m. Saturday, First Security Amphitheatre, LaHarpe Boulevard and President Clinton Avenue: The Sound of the Mountain at noon, The 1 oz. Jig at 1 p.m., Messy Sparkles at 2:15, Big Piph (Epiphany) at 3:30, War Chief at 4:45, Mountain Sprout at 6, Bonnie Montgomery at 7:15, Glen Campbell tribute at 8:30 and Collin Raye at 9:30
Weekend, Pages 34 on 09/26/2013
Print Headline: Sounds fest brings Hicks, Falco back to Arkansas